Thursday, 31 July 2008

A rock and roll education

This headline raised a smile:

Brian May, guitarist for rock band Queen, completes Ph.D. thesis following 30-year hiatus

May began his research of the Zodiacal Light (astronomy) in 1970 and completed his research and thesis in 2007, following a 30-year hiatus to play guitar in the well-known rock band Queen.

Probably not the most effective use of the spacing effect to help reinforce learning but hey, he had a great excuse.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Armed forces 'get free education'

According to the BBC news site:

Service personnel are to be given university education free of charge after they end their duty with the armed forces, it has been reported.

The UK government will pay tuition fees to study for GCSEs, A-levels, university degrees or other qualifications. This is in part a response to a recent Ministry of Defence survey of 9,000 servicemen and women suggested that some 47% of Army and Royal Navy respondents and 44% of those in the RAF regularly felt like quitting.

The armed forces have a long heritage of providing excellent training - immersive, highly focused and using a motivational base that is a million miles away from the cosy world of formal education.

I would not be surprised if many service personnel vote with their feet as they fail to connect with the teaching practices and environment that is far more abstract than their own personal experiences of training.

Immersion, simulation, teamwork (not operating as isolated individuals), lots of spaced repetition and practice is business-as-usual for those in service - but largely missing from most of our education and training efforts.

Higher Education embracing change

Last week I was invited to speak to all the teaching staff at City College, a higher education institution in Brighton, UK, which in its own words:

Each year over 2,000 full-time learners, 13,000 part-time learners as well as many international and European students choose City College as their education provider.

The main thrust of my presentation was to stimulate a recognition that the connected world we now live in forces a deep reassessment of traditional teaching practices. Michael Wesch and his Vision of Students Today helped set a context for how learners views, context and behaviour has changed as a result of the every day technology they use. Meantime Father Guido Sarduci demonstrated the elephant in the room in most education and training activities - we forget most of what we are presented with.

I went on to explore the principles of follow-through, and how in an age where we can have constant, mobile access to the internet, with all its knowledge repositories and applications, we can now design education and training to support us when we learn rather than when we are expected to learn (two fundamentally different things).

The economics of knowledge acquisition and skills development have changed. We can, as I like to say: Learn Less, More Often.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Blog of the Week - Learning Technologies

Well, just over six months in, and I'm still here, albeit with a backlog of ideas/thoughts that really should be up here by now. So it's nice to find that this blog was selected as a Blog of the Week by the Learning Technologies team.

A useful little motivator to step things up a little.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Five Minute University

Harold Jarche referenced this delicious video clip of Father Guido Sarduci pointing out what we all know about traditional schooling and higher education - we forget most of it. So what is the net value to us and society in perpetuating a model that is plainly inefficient, especially when the connected world we live in now fundamentally changes the economics on which that model was based.

As I've said before in one of my original posts to this blog: Less Learning, More Often is a conceptual framework that goes someway to address this chasm.

By the way - get to the end of the clip. The legal profession is vastly over engineered and at some point must undergo disruptive change once we remove the archaic language and democratise access to the computer systems and databases that many lawyers rely on anyway. E-learning can play a big role in helping society better understand the laws of the land.